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Centralized Special Unit / Israel's National Counter-Terror Unit
YAMAM ימ"מ
Yamam officers in full gear during raid training, armed with M4A1 rifles and operating police dog (K9)
Agency Israel Police
TypePolice tactical unit
RoleDomestic counter-terrorism, hostage rescue and law enforcement
Part of Israel Border Police
Mottoאֶרְדּוֹף אוֹיְבַי וְאַשִּׂיגֵם, וְלֹא אָשׁוּב עַד כַּלּוֹתָם
Operators~ 200 officers
Significant operation(s)First Intifada
Second Intifada
Israel–Hamas war

Yamam (Hebrew: יחידה מרכזית מיוחדת, romanizedYeḥida Merkazit Meyuḥedet; Special Central Unit), also known as National Counter-Terrorism Unit, is Israel's national counter-terrorism unit, one of four special units of the Israel Border Police. The Yamam is capable of both hostage-rescue operations and offensive take-over raids against terrorist targets in civilian areas. Besides military and counter-terrorism duties, it also performs tactical unit duties and undercover police work.


YAMAM operators in a special visit by Israeli officials, 2017
YAMAM snipers with Barrett MRAD and ghillie suits during a counter-terror/hostage-rescue demonstration in the Israel Border Police's training base.

The Yamam was established in late 1974 after the Ma'alot massacre, where a failed rescue operation by the Sayeret Matkal commando unit of the Israel Defense Forces resulted in the murder of 21 schoolchildren before the hostage takers were killed. Since hostage rescue tactics in friendly territory differ from those used in hostile areas, it was decided to establish an elite police unit which develops and practices a special CQB (Close Quarters Battles) doctrine for counter-terrorism operations in friendly territory and hostage rescue.

Operational record after the Second Intifada

On May 23, 2006, a Yamam force, using intelligence provided by the Shin-Bet, arrested Ibrahim Hamed after an IDF Caterpillar D9 armored bulldozer started ramming the house in which he was hiding.[1] On September 23, 2014, a Yamam force, together with Israel Defense Forces Combat Engineering Corps bulldozers, killed the two Hamas members accused of killing three Israeli teens in June 2014.[2]

Operational record during Operation Breakwater (2022–2023)

Video from the helmet camera of YAMAM operator.

On April 2, 2022, YAMAM operators killed 3 Palestinian Islamic Jihad militants, reportedly on their way to an attack.[3] On August 19, 2022, YAMAM operators killed Ibrahim al-Nabulsi, a commander of the Lions' Den militant group.[4][5] On October 25, 2022, YAMAM led a combined raid (with the Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet) on what the IDF said was the Lions' Den headquarters and bomb lab in Nablus.[6] On January 26, 2023, YAMAM led a combined raid (with the Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet) on Jenin refugee camp, which the IDF said was targeted against members of Palestinian Islamic Jihad who were planning an attack. Nine Palestinians were killed in the attack, including an unarmed civilian.[7]

Operational record during the Hamas led-attack on October 7, 2023, and afterwards

On October 7, 2023, YAMAM forces were the first to respond to the 2023 Hamas-led attack on Israel and the numerous massacres conducted by Palestinians in Israeli communities and towns. YAMAM operators killed in combat 200 armed Hamas gunmen and conducted several hostage rescue operations. YAMAM lost 9 operators and officers who were killed in action.[8]

On February 12, 2024, YAMAM rescued two Israeli hostages in Rafah, together with the Shin Bet and the Israeli Defense Forces, in a military covert raid code-named Operation Golden Hand.[9]

On June 8, 2024, YAMAM rescued four hostages in the Nuseirat Refugee Camp, together with the Shin Bet and the Israeli Defense Forces, in Operation Arnon. During the operation, Squad Commander Arnon Zamora, 36, was killed in combat. Noa Argamani, an Israeli citizen kidnapped in the Re'im Music festival massacre, was rescued in the operation.[10][11][12][13] During the operation, according to the IDF, under 100 Palestinians were killed. According to Hamas, 210 were killed.[14]

Selection and training

Yamam recruits veterans of Israel Defense Forces and Israel Border Police combat units who completed their compulsory service. Applicants must have served in a regular IDF combat unit and completed a commander's course (Rifleman 08), served in an IDF special forces unit, or served in a Border Police Mista'arvim unit. The unit's training course lasts seven months, divided into three months of basic counter-terrorism training during which recruits go through basic combat training, as well as training in hand-to-hand combat, urban combat, and use of specialized weapons, followed by four months of advanced training.[15][16]


The unit received number of honor citations (TZALASH, ציון לשבח) from the Commissioner of the Israeli Police: 2011,[17] 2014,[18] 2016,[19] 2020,[20] and 2022.[21]

In 2022 the unit received an honor citation from the Israel Defense Forces Chief of the General Staff (צל"ש הרמטכ"ל) for their fighting during Operation Breakwater.[22]

See also


  1. ^ Harel, Amos (May 23, 2006). "IDF arrests most-wanted Hamas bomb mastermind in West Bank". Haaretz. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved January 26, 2014.
  2. ^ לוי, רון בן ישי ואליאור (September 23, 2014). "החשבון נסגר: ישראל חיסלה את רוצחי הנערים". Ynet. Archived from the original on October 20, 2022. Retrieved May 8, 2023 – via www.ynet.co.il.
  3. ^ יהושוע, יוסי; אל-חי, ליאור (April 2, 2022). "מפקד הפלגה הוותיק מהימ"מ נפצע קשה בחיסול המחבלים: "עם ישראל חייב לו הרבה"". Ynet.
  4. ^ "N12 – המחבל איבראהים א-נאבולסי חוסל על ידי לוחמי צה"ל וימ"מ בשכם". August 9, 2022. Archived from the original on October 16, 2022. Retrieved November 10, 2022.
  5. ^ זיתון, יואב; קימון, אלישע בן (August 9, 2022). "3 שעות קרב בלב הקסבה: טילי מטאדור שוגרו למבנה שבו שהה המחבל". Ynet.
  6. ^ קימון, אלישע בן; חלבי, עינב (October 24, 2022). "מבצע לילי בלב שכם: הושמדה מעבדת המטענים של גוב האריות, 5 חמושים נהרגו". Ynet.
  7. ^ "Nine Palestinians killed by Israeli troops in Jenin clash". The Irish Times. Archived from the original on January 26, 2023. Retrieved January 27, 2023.
  8. ^ "קצין בכיר: לוחמי הימ"מ חיסלו 200 מחבלים; תשעה לוחמים נהרגו ו-35 נפצעו | ישראל היום". October 14, 2023.
  9. ^ זיתון, יואב; חלבי, עינב; צ'כנובר, יעל (February 12, 2024). "ההגעה החשאית, גל התקיפות - והחילוץ: "הלוחמים הגנו בגופם על לואיס ופרננדו"". Ynet.
  10. ^ Barnes, Julian E.; Bergman, Ronen; Shear, Michael D. (June 8, 2024). "U.S. Intelligence Helped Israel Rescue Four Hostages in Gaza". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 9, 2024.
  11. ^ "Four hostages seized at Nova festival freed in Gaza raid". www.bbc.com. Retrieved June 9, 2024.
  12. ^ i24NEWS (June 8, 2024). "Israeli security forces rescue 4 hostages from Gaza: Noa Argamani, Shlomi Ziv, Almog Meir Jan and Andrey Kozlov". I24news. Retrieved June 9, 2024.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  13. ^ Stambaugh, Sophie Tanno,Paul P. Murphy,Allegra Goodwin,Benjamin Brown,Hadas Gold,Abeer Salman,Ibrahim Dahman,Kareem Khadder,Gianluca Mezzofiore,Alex (October 8, 2023). "What we know about the people captured by Hamas". CNN. Retrieved June 9, 2024.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  14. ^ "IDF says under 100 Palestinian casualties, including terrorists, in rescue op; Hamas claims 210 'martyrs' | The Times of Israel". web.archive.org. June 8, 2024. Retrieved June 9, 2024.
  16. ^ גיוס לימ"מ - היחידה המיוחדת ללוחמה בטרור
  17. ^ מחלקים עיטורים: המשטרה עושה כבוד לימ"מ (Hebrew), ynet, April 6, 2011.
  18. ^ Announcement in the Israeli Police website, 2014.
  19. ^ ‏התפרסמה רשימת מקבלי העיטורים והצל"שים של משטרת ישראל (Hebrew), Israel HaYom, 2016.
  20. ^ מפקד הימ"מ: הקורונה מעסיקה את המשטרה, ואנחנו נלחמים בפשיעה (Hebrew), Walla!, November 2020.
  21. ^ "טקס הענקת עיטורים וציונים לשבח במשטרת ישראל 2022".
  22. ^ על פעילותן במבצע "שובר גלים": היחידות והגדודים שיקבלו צל"שים, תעודות הצטיינות והערכה – הרשימה המלאה, IDF website, November 2022 (Hebrew).

External links